Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The One Person I Wish I Could Meet In Paris

Long before I knew of a place called Paris, I knew of a person called Buddy.

Buddy was my grandfather. We had a kind of the-first-moment-our-eyes-ever-locked-bond and I had given him the name "Buddy" almost as soon as I could talk. From that moment on until I left home at 17, I spent the majority of my free time trailing after him, with my hand never far from holding his hand.

Buddy and I did everything together from the typical grandfather/granddaughter stuff like Sunday night dinners and teaching me how to drive. Now I also realize that we did a whole lot of things which were extraordinary. If I wanted a ride home from a party at 11 p.m., with a group of giggling girlfriends, our lip gloss smeared and our palms sweaty, I called Buddy; If I needed help grooming my pony, Buddy was there with a curry comb and a hoof pick; If I wanted to wear an acid wash, denim dress instead of the puffy, pink crinoline stuffed one, Buddy was there to defend my choice and sneak me off to the mall to purchase my acid wash prize.

Buddy was there for everything.

When I moved away to Vancouver in my early twenties, Buddy was the person I missed the most. Talking on the phone wasn't the same and on my visits home, I began to notice for the first time the true difference in our ages. Up until then, the sixty-0dd years that separated us had been meaningless but now the difference was impossible to ignore.

On one of my trips home, Buddy being long past capable of driving, him and I were snuggled together in the back of the car, heading towards the ferry terminal. The familiar dread I felt at leaving him was overwhelming and we were leaning, head-to-head, our hands clasped lightly, whispering nonsense to each other. I can't remember exactly what I said but I must have expressed some doubt, some concern about leaving him. In back of the car, Buddy whispered five words that I will remember forever, "Sweetheart, this is your time."

These simple words set me free not just at that moment but for the rest of my life. I had always believed in Buddy and his absolute love for me but it was then that I understood the depth of Buddy's love. His love wasn't claustrophobic or wanting, rather it was a combination of everything Buddy had ever done for me - from every word of encouragement he had spoken to every secret he had kept - and his unconditional belief in my abilities that made him want to see me achieve whatever dreams I had.

Buddy passed away several years before I went to Paris for the first time. Though it seems strange to me now, Buddy and I never spoke about Paris. At the time, Paris was still a place of make-believe and fantasy. When I finally made it there in 2003, I stood on the second level of the Eiffel Tower, with all the other over-excited tourists and our freshly purchased international calling cards, and dialed our loved ones around the world. I wanted to call Buddy so badly and say, "You will never guess where I am."

There have been so many times since the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, where I wish I could phone Buddy, or better yet have him with me; our wedding; graduating from university; buying my first horse; or even just to get his opinion as to what I should eat for lunch. Last May in Paris, I sat with my husband at Aux Delices de Manons on rue Saint Honore, gorging ourselves on patisseries and thought how much Buddy would have loved the desserts, loudly called them "duff" and asked for more.

With anything you love, there is never enough time. The jam gets eaten, the nude coloured leather handle on your LV turns gray and the departure date on your return ticket eventually comes. With the people you love, time is even more fleeting.

I think of Buddy every day. Especially when those days are in Paris.


AlisonVeritas said...

beautiful. (oh and my word verification says BLESS). I think it's a little note from Buddy.

Licette NJ How said...

Oh Erin - this really strikes a chord with me. I am welling up with tears and thinking of my dad and how I miss him.
Keep writing my dearest - there is such maturity in your words.

ayauk said...

Bella! This is amazing. Make me burst into tears.